Kathy Posner

I have written many, many times about the importance of transparency in government that one would think I owned a glass company, but the subject is so important it cannot be discussed enough.

Illinois State Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) advanced HB222 through a House committee last week. The bill seeks to expand the parameters of the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal (ITAP.)

The Synopsis As Introduced Amends the Department of Central Management Services Law of the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois. Provides that the Illinois Transparency and Accountability Portal (ITAP) shall also include a searchable database of all county, township, and municipal employees sorted by the employing unit of local government, employment position title, and current pay rate and year-to-date pay. Amends the Counties Code, the Township Code, and the Illinois Municipal Code. Provides that counties, townships, and municipalities must comply with the requirements established by the Department of Central Management Services concerning ITAP. Limits home rule powers.

How fun to be able to check on the salary of any public employee. After all it is our tax money paying their wages, so we should be able to see what they are taking home.

Other exciting items called for are:

(1) A database of all current State contracts, sorted separately by contractor name, awarding officer or agency, contract value, and goods or services provided.

(2) A database of all current State expenditures sorted separately by agency, category, recipient and Representative District.

“The state of Illinois is in desperate need of further ethics overhaul,” Franks said. “We must take every opportunity to improve state government by shining a bright light on every elected official, every employee and every expenditure. Increased transparency will help ensure that tax dollars are being spent responsibly.”

He added, “To change business as usual on every level of government, we must take the necessary steps to make information more available to the average citizen. This bill will provide citizens with another means to hold their government accountable. The government must be returned to the people and transparency is the first step toward that goal.”

House Bill 222 would expand ITAP to include salary information for local government employees, including municipalities and county governments. ITAP, which Franks helped create in 2009, currently provides a searchable, online database of state government spending, including contracts and state employee salaries. Franks believes that holding local governments to the same standards as state government is important to ensure local officials are working in the best interest of their constituents as well.

According to the Better Government Association there are 1,435 taxpayer-supported townships in 85 of 102 state counties, where each township collects taxes to support the salaries and pensions of, at least, seven elected officers, plus staff. Add that number to all the county, city and state workers and the salary data base will be enormous! Even though I probably won't read through all the lists, You know I will try!